Cosmos Night: Flood of Light is part of a larger, ongoing project Koans for the Anthropocene, through which we aim to offer local, ephemeral, unrepeatable acts of aesthetic hospitality. Through Koans, we invite audiences to pay close attention to the ever-shifting and impermanent conditions of life on Earth by enframing seemingly commonplace activities of everyday life (the drinking of tea, the awareness of sunlight) within perspectives on time, landscape, and interactivity that are geologic in scale. By offering embodied experiences of the Anthropocene nested within the cosmological, we aim to deepen collective abilities to re-scale human expectations of stability and predictability, without sinking into distraction or despair, and to creatively inhabit Earth’s ever-changing conditions.
On June 28th, we had a beautiful artist in residence show by Marie Claire Macadar after a festive summer communal dinner. The show started with a video presentation of Marie Claire’s completed puppet shows, including “Hangers! The Musical”, which was nominated for the 2015 National Puppet Slam. Marie Claire Macadar then gave an in-progress presentation of her newest puppet show, “Escape from Grandma’s Purse”, created during her residency at Arts Letters & Numbers. The puppet show centers around a toothbrush that finds itself very, very lost inside of a grandmother’s purse, and the characters it meets along the way, including a sock, a lipstick, and.... a treacherous receipt monster. The sharing was such a playful and creative experience of contemporary puppetry, which naturally evoke dynamic exchange of thoughts and questions after her presentation.
On June 22nd, Nihilo-Ex-Datum (Prelude), the Artist in Residence Show by Liao Dean employed a combination of created site-specific installations, stop-motion film, sculpture works, and performance to reexamine the relationship between connection and significance, to explore contemporary attitudes regarding data and knowledge. Combining conceptual elements from eastern philosophy, mathematical logic, and post-modern literature with locally sourced materials and refuse, the exhibition will guide audience members through a landscape cluttered with pablum and significance in order to encourage reflection on the derivation of meaning through the lens of artistic creation and critical deconstruction.
Since 2016 we have been fortunate to work with AHS’s theater ensemble, the amazing students and their highly dedicated directors and staff. This years musical Sweet Charity explored issues of sexism misogyny and especially how young people are impacted in the systems we live in. Ward Dales, Gregory Theodore Marsh, Noelle Gentile and NCBI, are true masters of creating safe space for the students to share their own stories and experiences around the topics. Creating a performance that is not only about the story itself - it’s about everyone who has every been in a situation of toxic societal norms and for everyone else learning how to be an ally.
Yurika Higashikawa | Artists in Residence Show | Snowed Under: A crash course in dealing with epistemological dread
From Mar 11th to 13th, Yurika Higashikawa presented her artist residence show, Snowed Under: A crash course in dealing with epistemological dread. In the three-day session, YU shared a wide range of works reflecting diverse aspect of own. A reading of A love letter to creative workers brought her intimate affection, interest and care into questions of what is being artists and what their obligations are. Storytime, a collaborative reading of two short stories dragged the audience to be present in the stories. In the last piece, YU performed a lecture calling for a more radical approach to self/community education in light of environmental destruction.
Yurika Higashikawa is a research driven, performance-based art-worker currently living in Dublin. They graduated from NCAD with a Joint BA degree in Sculpture and Visual Culture in 2017. Since exiting the academic institution as a student, YU has continued to evolve their practice through a series of lectures and guided tours in and Dublin City Centre.
YU’s practice evolved out of a provisional act of resistance against the imposed heterogeneous hierarchies implicit in a university and aimed to highlight how certain classist, gendered and racist structures can affect and direct creative workers within the wider field of the Irish State. Since graduating from university, the antagonism of the knowledge economy remains a core consideration within their practice however YU has become predominantly concerned about the contingent realms of historical turmoil in relation to contemporary site of social unrest under neliberalism. They interrogate the ever-evolving, ever-shifting physical and metaphysical terrain of Ireland through the use of socially engaged actions and performances as well as guerrilla style object interjections. By using ‘The testimony’ or ‘The Complaint’ as their modus operandi, YU unravels ideas of agency, precarity, hope, adaptability, institutional pain and opportunity.
Alongside these key considerations, YU has also become increasingly concerned about the relationship between ethics and art. Having developed a profound distrust of the state’s co-option and utilisation of art in regeneration projects, YU poses their performances alongside capitalist entities as a tactic to erode or undermine their ideological actions. Placing their final iterations of their work in the public sphere, methods of co-option, over-identification and consent have become central to how they execute their work.
Current research has lead YU to consider what roles can be assigned to art in relation to the housing crisis and what links can be made to grassroots organising. Should it be a soothing agent, to propose band-aid solutions? Should it be the voice of dissent, using its autonomy to propagate or disperse hidden narratives? Can it effectively support communities in times of crisis and if so, what are the ethical considerations that should be taken into account? YU’s work is an interrogation of arts radical possibilities, paradoxical conventions and responsibilities in a post-relational art and institutional art context.
Described as “cosmic jazz” (Boston Music Intelligencer) and “like Mozart mashed up with Club Beats and Electronica” (Original Gravity), pianist Sophia Subbayya Vastek and electronic artist David Ibbett present an electro-symphonic journey of growth and discovery - bridging the worlds of classical chamber music with electronic beats and sampled sounds of the universe. Consisting of works by David for piano and live electronics, they will perform a preview of this brand-new program at Arts Letters & Numbers, musically exploring such terrain as the fractal patterns of nature, the growth of an embryo, bleached coral reefs, and rising seas and a changing global climate.
We are so happy to have held our first 'Third-Thursday' of 2019, our new monthly night of sharing works. With pieces and performances from artists, guests, local community members and Fellows, the evening revolved around the theme of 'ordinary days', attempting to rediscover and explore the things happening around us that are often given little intention or attention. Involving everyone, artists, guests, local community and fellows, Third-Thursday is a time and place for participation, inspiration, and creative exchange.
To mark the end of his eight weeks in Residence at Arts Letters & Numbers, Rashaun J. Allen delivered a public reading of his work, sharing two chapters from his memoir. The reading and lively discussion offered a vivid insight into his life and work, and his approach to the craft of writing. The evening was capped off by a beautiful musical collaboration by current artists in residency, Ellie MacPhee, Elizabeth Kate Hall-Keough and Michelle Wan Lok Chan. Click below and check out the wonderful moments!
It was lightly snowing with a small bonfire outside. Through the window an ambient light was coming out, and the visitors slowly took their seats towards a little chest by the window. Three people holding papers perched on the chest in turn, and started to recite their writings calmly. On October 26th, 2018, we had a full house for an evening of readings by Laurin DeChae, Adam Tedesco, and Rebecca Wolff. Within each voice, poetry, prose and essay were shared, and the visitors traveled in the stories of sounds.
Laurin DeChae is a PhD candidate in Composition & Rhetoric at SUNY Albany, acting as the editor-in-chief for Barzakh Magazine. She received her MFA in poetry from the University of New Orleans. Her work appears or is forthcoming in Harpur Palate, Animal Literary, Pretty Owl Poetry and elsewhere.
Adam Tedesco is an editor of REALITY BEACH, a journal of new poetics. His recent work has appeared or is forthcoming in Laurel Review, Gramma Weekly, Prelude, Pouch, Powderkeg, Fanzine, Fence, and elsewhere. His video work has been exhibited at MoMA PS1 among other venues. He is the author of several chapbooks, most recently ABLAZA (Lithic Press, 2017), as well as the forthcoming titles Misrule (Usrus Americanus Press, 2019), and Mary Oliver (Lithic Press, 2019).
Rebecca Wolff is the author of four books of poems, one novel, and numerous pieces of nonfiction prose. She is the editor of Fence and the publisher of the Constant Critic. She lives in Hudson, NY, and is currently seeking meaningful employment . . .
What does make your body move? An willful body movement comes from the complex of sensory; feeling of security, mindful guidance, relaxation, freedom, scent, music, space, etc. One leads to another added up and stacked in sequence, the body gradually absorbs the environment and starts to communicate with the surrounding. Jillian invited us to a journey to her tiny world, On a Bed of Spiderweb, on the 20th October, 2018. Her world was full of sensory without any regulations or constraints. The space was transformed into any possibility of experience with ongoing sound and scent which let people release their tension of time, space and themselves; and people started to move.
Jillian Goodwin is a trained creative arts therapist, installation artist, and classically trained ballet dancer. She co-created the first mental health program at The League’s Education and Treatment Center’s LAND Gallery, a studio and gallery space for adults with developmental delays; and she has worked in the inpatient acute psychiatric unit at NYU’s Langone Medical Center.
Photos by Natasha Holmes
This year brought with it our 3rd annual Festival, where we once again celebrated and shared the works created over the course of our 2018 Summer Workshop, Hinges, Mirrors & Eclipses. With 45 participants, representing an incredible range of fields and nationalities, it was the largest workshop in the history of Arts Letters & Numbers, resulting in a truly memorable festival.
Our Artists in Residence invited the public for an evening of performances on June 28th, 2018. In a very short time, works with great depth had been growing out of collaborative and solo interventions. The journey and the live the residency program has taken on is mind-blowing, and the evening with Lu Heintz, Erika Morillo, Gordon H. Williams, Ursula Bustillos Daza & Marshall Jones was a truly unique experience.
‘With Holdings’ was a two person performance by Lu Heintz and Erika Morillo. Gordon H. Williams guided the audience to create a soundscape by exploring the second law of thermodynamics (the total entropy of an isolated system can never decrease over time). Marshall Jones accompanied tunes to Ursula Bustillos Daza’s photography constellation of Bolivian culture.
In the blossoming summer days our amazing group of artists in residence, Jenny Zander, Dan Thorpe, Michelle Wan Lok Chan, Augustine Cordero & Betsey Gravatt, invited the community to share their work. Whether they had been at Arts Letters & Numbers for months, or for just a few days, the urgency of sharing work with the community was very present. Working closely next to each other sometimes results in beautifully unexpected collaborations - some of these were shared through performances and visual arts during the evening of May 25th, 2018.
Performance and Body Art Installation
Among the shadows we shed our false skins, revealing our true selves. Through the movement and masking of body, this performance explores a piece of one’s real persona. In and out of light, alive with color.
Contact Improv and Body Art
The house, the grounds and the studios was on May 17th, 2018 filled up by spoken words, dance, painted fabrics, drying clothes, folder paper, honeycomb, a porn shop and trees, all works created by our Artists in Residence: Anna Blair, Dan Thorpe, Santana Dardot, Michelle Wan Lok Chan, Joel Cox & Katrine Anne Rose
Notes Toward A Subjective History of Honey | Anna Kate Blair
At Arts, Letters & Numbers, Anna has been working on a piece of writing inspired by a bag of honeycomb found in the closet. This writing, presented as fragmented forms that follow the shards of honeycomb, will be presented in an installation that combines text with other organic and inorganic materials, looking at mythologies of honey alongside personal memories traced associatively. This writing looks at memory as a kind of honey, exploring stickiness and the strangeness of preservation.
XXX Neon Sign | Dan Thorpe
XXX Neon Sign is a cooked ride through Australian heterosexuality, as viewed via the unforgiving gaze of the porno-shop worker. Based on James Andre's eponymous epic poem, set in Brisbane's red-light district, musician/composer Dan Thorpe reflects on the way masculinity and heterosexuality have shaped his own desires, and sense of his own body.
Extending the knowledge-of-the-body II | Santana Dardot
This work approaches the relationship between the familiar and the forces of the outside world.
Clothes and textiles that once covered and protected us, in direct contact with our sensible inner world, are disposed and exposed in public spaces, drying for a new course of practice and potency.
Embedded with the memories of the effects of the living world on our equally alive body, they undress with longing another scene over the one that already existed.
Trees | Michelle Wan Lok Chan
A man is born gentle and weak.
At his death he is hard and stiff.
Green plants are tender and filled with sap.
At their death they are withered and dry.
Therefore the stiff and unbending is the disciple of death.
The gentle and yielding is the disciple of life.
- Lao Tzu
Over the years we have been fortunate to experience the transformative work of AHS Theater Ensemble and NCBI, bringing students stories, experiences and observations to the stage. The production of 2018, Blaq Boi is a truly deeply moving, pure and honest student written performance about the young black male experiences in this country today.
Anyone who has ever been to Arts Letters & Numbers knows the importance of our local community. There is an honest and deep trust and care that has been built over the years, and they keep their engagement and welcomeness to each and everyone who spends time at Arts Letters & Numbers. For an artist in residence, like Justine Langella, the influence of this warm community can be bigger than expected. Spending 8 weeks in residence, in wintertime, Justine built strong bounds to the community, fellow artists in residence as well as session participants. Over the course of time her body of work gradually became the community, and the community became her body of work.
One of the works Justine developed during her time in residence was Ecran de Veille, where she combined her deep interest in traditional family dinners and the experience of our community. This performative mixed media installation was show on February 4th, 2018:
écran de veille : séquence d'instruction cyclique qui éprouve des difficultés à se déterminer
screen saver : cyclic sequence of instructions that has difficulty determining itself
a performed installation by Justine Langella
music by Adrien Degioanni
with : Diane, Rob, Bryce, Rebecca, Christina, Michelle, Natasha, Billy, John, Rikke, Frances
Performed Installation - 47min - 2018
Video © Justine Langella
Photos by: Zelé Angelides
On August 3rd we opened our doors for the second Arts Letters & Numbers festival: this year titled Constitution. The 3-day festival presented works created during our annual four-week summer workshop, bringing together participants from a wide range of disciplines including architecture, photography, dance, music, literature, film, theatre, painting and drawing.
“Uncanny You” is audio-visual theatre performance by Ann Mirjam Vaikla and Lærke Grøntved. The project researches and focuses on “uncanny” spaces and situations. It is inspired by examples from the times we are living in and our surrounding political climax: Trump’s rhetorics and post-truth era, right-wing uprising in Europe, refugee crisis and the process of climate change and the denial of it.
The term “uncanny” was first mentioned by Sigmund Freud in his essay “Das Unheimliche” in 1919. The word “uncanny” refers to something that is strangely familiar, rather than simply mysterious; arousing superstitious fear or dread; uncomfortably strange”.
“Uncanny you” works around this term in relation to our heated up political climax - it is a cross disciplinary performance using elements of concert, poetry, video, text based theatre, movement and visual theatre. The text in the performance is partly written by the authors and partly from found material from recent articles and newspaper (ex New York Times, The Guardian ect).
Parallel the project focuses on insect’s survival strategies and mimicry to mirror and communicate what it happening in the humans world (inspired by the essay “Mimicry and Legendary Psychasthenia” by Roger Caillois).
“Uncanny You” is an international theatre project. It is co-produced by Kanuti Gildi SAAL in Tallinn, Estonia where it will premiere in the end of September in 2017. Important supporters are residency center Arts Letters and Numbers in New York, USA and Teater Momentum in Odense, Denmark.
Photography by Zelé Angelides